Dear E B on Making the Most of Maternity Benefits

This post is part of our “Dear E.B.” series, in which Mercer’s very own advice columnist (“E.B.,” for Employee Benefits) responds to questions concerning health and well-being that are on the minds of employees across the country.

Dear E.B.,

I am two months pregnant and have a previous history of miscarriages, so my doctor is considering me a high-risk pregnancy. I’m in a high-deductible health plan so I’m really worried about costs, but I want to make sure I get the highest quality of care for me and my baby. I’m also really worried about how this pregnancy is going to affect my job. Can we have a confidential discussion? I would be interested to know if I am eligible for any paid time-off benefits -- and if I take it, will my manager hold my job for me?


Overwhelmed Future New Mom

Dear Future Mom,

First off, congratulations on your pregnancy! Your employer has some great programs in place that will provide you with paid time off and job protection -- and help you reassess your future family’s needs. And you can access them all through a single telephone call to the benefits line of the insurance company your employer works with. Here’s what will happen when you call:

  • The benefits advisor you speak with will set up three leave types for you: disability, parental, and Family Medical Leave. The disability plan will pay you 100% of your pay for eight weeks after your delivery (if you need to go out prior to your disability, additional time may be available), and the parental leave plan will continue an additional two weeks at 100% of pay for bonding time with your new baby. Both the disability and parental leave plans will run concurrent with Family Medical Leave (for up to a total of 12 weeks per year), which will provide you with job protection during your leave.
  • Your advisor will also offer to transfer you to a maternity support program, which is available at no charge. It can help you find an obstetrician who delivers at a hospital with a high-risk neonatal intensive care unit.
  • You should also know that your benefit advisor is prepared to answer any questions you have about adding your new baby to benefits and reassessing the need for increasing your life insurance to protect your new family -- they will send written paperwork to you on these topics as a friendly reminder after your delivery.

Congratulations again on your pending new family!

Advice by Kenneth Jeffries, a consultant in Mercer’s Richmond office.

by E.B.

Mercer's Very Own "Advice Columnist

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